His turn-out was emphatically excellent, and he diffused waves of personality, strong, chilling gusts of icy air, a protective element that threatened to freeze into rigidity all who came through the door, before they could approach him nearer.
In one room the carpet had been rolled back, and a hunchback wearing a velvet smoking-jacket was playing an accordion, writhing backwards and forwards as he attacked his instrument with demiurgic frenzy.
It seemed to me he was well rid of Maureen, if she really was disturbing him to the extent that it appeared; but being judicious about other people's love affairs is easy, often merely a sign one has not understood their force or complexity.
The General, speaking one felt with authority, always insisted that, if you bring off adequate preservation of your personal myth, nothing much else in life matters. It is not what happens to people that is significant, but what they think happens to them.
This is something of a paradox in that the transgression—crime perhaps—of America has been to reject Classicism for Romanticism. The national distaste for moderation—to which Henry Adams referred—inevitably leads to such a choice.
It is rather an occasion, darling,' said Moreland, vexed at these objections. ‘After all, I am noted among composers for the smallness of my output. I don't turn out a symphony every week like some people. A new work by me ought to be celebrated with a certain flourish—if only to encourage the composer himself.
Barnby always dismissed the idea of intelligence in a woman as no more than a characteristic to be endured.
I was relieved to find her attitude to myself suggested nothing more hostile than complete indifference.
Reason is given to all men, but all men do not know how to use it. Liberty is offered to each one of us, but few learn to be free. Such gifts are, in any case, a right to be earned, not a privilege for the shiftless.
What a shabby lot of highbrows have turned out tonight," he said, when he saw us. "It makes me ashamed to be one.
One's capacity for hearing about ghastly doings lessens with age.
I want an immediate explanation of the infernal muddle your incompetence has made.
The exaggerated dramatic force employed by Umfraville in presenting his narrative made it hard to know what demeanour best to adopt in listening to the story. Tragedy might at any moment give way to farce, so that the listener had always to keep his wits about him.
One passes through the world knowing few, if any, of the important things about even the people with whom one has been from time to time in the closest intimacy.
I addressed a remark to him which he acknowledged simply by closing and opening his eyes, making me feel that, the next time I spoke, I ought to make an attempt to find something a trifle less banal to say: though his smile at the same time absolved me from the slightest blame in falling so patently short of his accustomed standards.
Outside, the detonation of loudly-slammed taxi doors, suggesting the opening of a cannonade, had died down.
Since Quiggin's books remained purely hypothetical entities, it seemed reasonable enough that their publisher should exist hypotheticaliy too. I was tempted to say as much, but thought it wiser to avoid risk of discord at this early stage.
In the end most things in life—perhaps all things—turn out to be appropriate.
In any case, I had been one of them. If her lovers were horrifying, I too had been of their order. That had to be admitted. ‘It is no good pontificating,' Mr Deacon used to say, ‘about other people's sexual tastes.
In short, the persons we see most clearly are not necessarily those we know best.
Mr. Deacon, on the other hand, was in favour of abolishing, or ignoring, the existing world entirely, with a view to experimenting with one of an entirely different order. He was a student of Esperanto (or, possibly, one of the lesser-known artificial languages), intermittently vegetarian, and an advocate of decimal coinage.
Parents - especially step-parents - are sometimes a bit of a disappointment to their children. They don't fulfill the promise of their early years.
Some persons feel drawn towards those who dislike them, or are at least determined to overcome opposition of that sort.
He [Widmerpool] moistened his lips, though scarcely perceptibly. I thought his mixture of secretiveness and curiosity quite intolerable.
I forgot at the time that this inability to penetrate a room is a particular form of hesitation to be associated with persons in whom an extreme egoism is dominant: the acceptance of someone else's place or dwelling possibly implying some distasteful abnegation of the newcomer's rights or position.
If certain individuals fall in love from motives of convenience, they can be contrasted with plenty of others in whom passion seems principally aroused by the intensity of administrative difficulty in procuring its satisfaction.
An exceedingly well-informed report,' said the General. 'You have given yourself the trouble to go into matters thoroughly, I see. That is one of the secrets of success in life.
I passed through empty streets, thinking that I, too, should be married soon, a change that presented itself in terms of action rather than reflection, the mood in which even the most prudent often marry: a crisis of delight and anxiety, excitement and oppression.
But he also looked as if by then he knew what worry was, something certainly unknown to him in the past.
Life becomes more and more like an examination where you have to guess the questions as well as the answers. I'd long decided there were no answers. I'm beginning to suspect there aren't really any questions either, none at least of any consequence, even the old perennial, whether or not to stay alive.
Choosing the type of girl one likes is about the last thing left that one is allowed to approach subjectively. I shall continue to exercise the option.
Gathered round the bucket of coke that burned in front of the shelter, several figures were swinging arms against bodies and rubbing hands together with large, pantomimic gestures: like comedians giving formal expression to the concept of extreme cold.
A liability suddenly presented itself, bringing such musings sharply to a close, demanding rapid decisions.
I did not, however, as yet see him as one of those symbolic figures, of whom most people possess at least one example, if not more, round whom the past and the future have a way of assembling.
Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.
They made me think of long-forgotten conflicts and compromises between the imagination and the will, reason and feeling, power and sensuality; together with many more specifically personal sensations, experienced in the past, of pleasure and of pain.
The war seems to have altered some people out of recognition and made others more than ever like themselves,' said Isobel.
He saw that as usual it would be better to be careful as for some years now he had found being good to be almost out of the question.
I found later that she was indeed what is called ‘a tease', perhaps the only outward indication that her inner life was not altogether happy; since there is no greater sign of innate misery than a love of teasing.
Few persons who have ever sat for a portrait can have felt anything but inferior while the process is going on.
Literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity.
Widmerpool's face assumed a dramatic expression that made him look rather like a large fish moving swiftly through opaque water to devour a smaller one.
It was, however, in keeping with the way my uncle conducted his life that he should reach his destination without knowing the name of the goal.
Rusty wore jeans, Fiona a long skirt that swept the ground. Dragging its flounces across the damp grass, she looked like a mediaeval lady from the rubric of an illuminated Book of Hours, a remote princess engaged in some now obsolete pastime.